Cuban immigrants share precious family heirlooms to show history of Cuban exiles by Janey Fugate Julia Adán Pelegrín, 71, opened a black suitcase full of faded elegant shirts. Those shirts, she explained, belonged to her father, Emilio Adán Silva, when he was a Supreme Court justice in Cuba, and they represented his life before he and 12 other justices signed a letter denouncing Fidel Castro’s government. Eight years later, his family moved to Miami. Those shirts, Pelegrín says, represent the sacrifice her father made for his family and express the pride she feels. “These are not only memories but items of everyday use when Cuba existed as a nation,” Adán said. “[These shirts] were on the streets of Havana. They lived there.” Such feelings of pride and nostalgia prevailed Saturday in the lobby of the Freedom Tower, when dozens of Cubans gathered to donate or lend objects of historic interest that document their exile experience. More than 300 items — passports, documents, photos, clothes — will be part of an exhibit that will open at the tower in September. The inauguration of the exhibit is a key step in the preservation of Cuban history, said Alina Interián, host of the event and executive director of Miami Dade College cultural affairs. “We want to pay tribute to the people to whom this tower means so much,” said Interián, who also was processed at the Freedom Tower when she arrived from Cuba. Between 1962 and 1974, Cuban refugees were processed at the tower, known as “The Refuge.” It was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2008. The exhibit, titled “The Exile Experience: Journey to Freedom,” is a collaboration between Miami Dade College and the Miami Herald Media Company. Its objective is to document, preserve and share the history of the difficulties the exiled Cuban community went through since Fidel Castro’s rise to power. The facility has deserved a project like this for some time, said Luisa Meruelo, 93, who worked for the tower’s immigration service for nine years. “I was always wondering why no one had done something about the refugees here,” Meruelo said. “This is a long story, a beautiful story.” The exhibit is a way to thank the nation that gave them refuge during that turbulent time, she said. “We have to thank the people of the United States for being so generous to us at a very difficult time,” she said. Now, the museum can show items like the first coins earned in this country, the tie that an immigrant was wearing when he arrived, a wedding gown and the tiny dress of a 3-year-old. To the people who wore them, these items are intimately associated with the difficult experience of having to abandon their native country. One of those people was Mercy Advocat, who arrived in 1962 with her brother in the Pedro Pan Operation. That exodus took place between 1960 and 1962 and brought more than 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children to the United States. “The last thing our parents told us before leaving was that my brother and I should never be separated,” Advocat said. “We then boarded the plane and, when we landed, the first thing they did was separate us — the girls from the boys.” Advocat and her brother eventually were sent to the same foster home in Albuquerque, N.M., and they ended doing what their parents had told them. After two years, they were reunited with their mother in New York. The black-and-white photos Advocat brought to the tower show her mother’s tears when she reunited with her children. She is lending those photos and a doll brought from Cuba — some of her most precious keepsakes — to the museum. She is not ready to part with them yet. “I’m not so old to have to donate them,” she said. © 2014 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved. Read more here:

Celso A Ahumada Valera

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Current Name
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Current Location
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Name on Arrival
Celso A Ahumada Valera
Age on Arrival
Date of Arrival
Monday, August 13, 1962
Relocated To
CWB Matecumbe

Celso A's Story

This person has not yet filled out their story about their flight as a part of Operation Pedro Pan.

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Leave a public message for Celso A.

Celso, que dice el shorstop estrella del Colegio de Belen. Te escribe el primera base del team, que tenia que recoger tus tiros desviados. Celso, espero tu y tu famila esten bien. Un fuerte abrazo, y saludame a Valdes, al Chaqua, Bezos, Duran,Vega, al Lagarto, y al resto del team ,si los vez. Tu amigo Francisco Fuentes Garcia

Message by Francisco J Fuentes Garcia | May 23rd 2011

Celsito, porque no te registras? Te digo que fue tremenda alegria compartir contigo ayer de nuevo, estas como siempre, dulce, alegre, carinoso, Besos tu hermanita de PP, Silvia Budejen

Message by Silvia Budejen Trujillo | Oct 18th 2009

Celso: Fernando told me tonight what you were going to do with the twin and that is very nice of you. However, please note that you'll be in charge of him that night. I've already done 47 years of penance.(ha ha) I'm thinking of taking him to the baseball game because he is going to love that. Look forward to meeting you. By the way, I hope you don't misbehave as bad as Fernandin..I spend my days scolding him!

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Oct 15th 2009

Cuantos momentos buenos y malos hemos pasado junto en la vida.Pero los buenos son los que nos gusta recordar.Dime la verdad, que es lo que hacia Pepe para sacar las cuberetas mas grandes? Es cierto que se metia la carnada en la boca? Que clase de noches pasamos pescando en Marathon. Siempre te quiero tu hermano Melvin

Message by Melvin F Noriega Plasencia | Jul 14th 2009

Celso no se pero te recuerdo siempre jugando pelota con mi hermano Pepe tantos lindos recuerdos, Artilito

Message by Jorge H Artiles Gutierrez | Jul 1st 2009

Celsito mi hermano cuando habras esto contestame ok te quiero tu hermano de la casa VILLAR. FERNANDO COLLADO

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | May 26th 2009

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